I was talking to my friend on the phone the other night, a dear friend with whom I go way back, but whom I see seldom because of geography, mostly. It's one of those friendships, though, where it doesn't matter, where you can pick up right where you left off as if no time passed at all. She remembers the names of my gajillion brothers and sisters and of every last boyfriend I ever had, and I remember hers, too, and we laugh as we catch up over which ones survived the cut and which ones were bad, bad mistakes.
I called her because she lives in Minneapolis, and I wanted to make sure she didn't go down with that bridge, and didn't know anybody who did (she didn't). But then we got to talking about other things, and she asked about the kids, and asked how I was managing it all, balancing it all.
People without kids ask me this a lot, this question about how do I do it all, and I'm not sure I understand the question. What is it they want to know? What time I get up in the morning? How I schedule everything? Or are they really asking how I'm handling it all, how close to the edge I get? Or are they just expressing admiration? I'm never sure, and so I never know how to answer.
How do I do it all? How does anyone? All of us have our own things going on--kids are just my thing. I have friends who have boatloads of physical challenges, and they just go right on living their lives. Is that any more or less than what I do? I have friends who grant themselves free time, time to breathe and be and think. Is that any more or less than what I do? We all just make our choices, and live in them the best we can, don't we? Kids are a special add-on, a unique responsibility. I get that. But you make that choice and then you live that life, best you can. It's harder, but you don't know it's harder until you're doing it.
This idea of balance is all hogwash, anyway. Some days you do some things well, and other days you don't. Some days you keep most of the balls up in the air, other days you drop a few. You either view it as an exciting tightrope walk, full of adventure and excitement, or you view it as walking the ledge, with danger lurking at every turn. I try to take the tightrope view, and know that I won't fall too far if I miss a step--I have too many amazing friends and family and loved ones who have offered their safety nets. For those who think they're on the ledge, with no one to catch them--and I used to be one of these--it feels much more frightening, the stakes much higher.
Mostly, I'm just trying not to take things too seriously. I found myself getting all worked up last week because the girls were coming home frazzled and whiny, and I was really worried that they shouldn't be in daycare full-time or that Addie's school wasn't right for her. I felt myself shift into overdrive, thinking about how I would find her a new school, how I would swing things at work if the girls were only in daycare part-time.
Then I stepped back, and decided to give it all a little more time, and to trust that things would work out. I just made the choice to take it down a notch, and lo and behold, this week is much better. The girls seem to have adjusted. Are they reacting to my calm? Or are they just chilling some? Hard to know. We may eventually go back down to four days a week rather than five, but we'll be making that choice from a place of peace and not panic. Because panic just makes you dumb and crazy, and I'm done with that for the moment. No more dumb and crazy Jenny. At least for now.